"Freedom of the Press, if it means anything at all, means the freedom to criticize and oppose. " (Orwell) The impulse for journalists to expose the evils of society is often paralleled in novels. Through One Hundred Years of Solitude and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, Garcia Marquez and Solzhenitsyn become a part of this prevalent literary trend of social criticism. In both works, the society portrayed experiences a period of political turmoil.
Garcia Marquez uses Colonel Aureliano Buendia to illustrate an effect of the Liberal revolution against the Conservative regime in Macondo, criticizing the personality defects suffered as a result of involvement in this situation of political instability. Solzhenitsyn's characters exist in mid-twentieth century Russia under Josef Stalin's totalitarianist regime in a Siberian labour camp. Ivan Denisovich experiences loss of individuality, changes in character and his time in the camp eliminates any prospect of an ordinary life after his release.
Social criticism in literature looks at how a situation affects characters and how it changes them. While Colonel Aureliano Buendia's demise conveys the vices of revolution and war and Ivan Denisovich is used to address the effects of placement in a labour camp under a dictatorial rule, such as under Stalin, the novels do contain a common thread. Both Garcia Marquez and Solzhenitsyn criticize how politically unstable societies cause character transformation through the development of their respective characters, Colonel Aureliano Buendia and Ivan Denisovich.
Neither Colonel Aureliano Buendia nor Ivan Denisovich had major political involvement until unexpected circumstances plunged them into the realm of politics. The first of Colonel Aureliano Buendia's political sentiments expressed is a condemnation of fighting over an ideology: "… he could not understand how people arrived at the extreme of waging war over things that could not be touched. " (Garcia Marquez 104) Colonel Aureliano Buendia was not developed as a revolutionary, yet upon exposure to political surroundings he became enveloped in politics and revolution.
He was playing chess with his Conservative father-in-law, Don Apolinar Moscote, and witnessed the Conservative party arrange an election in their favour. Garcia Marquez placed him in this situation to accelerate the transformation of a man who could not even grasp the concept of civil war to a man who concludes, "'If I have to be something I'll be Liberal… because Conservatives are tricky,'" (Garcia Marquez 106). Garcia Marquez uses him to show how politics involve even the most improbable subjects. Similarly, Solzhenitsyn's character Ivan Denisovich lived a secluded life before his imprisonment.
He didn't even own a radio. In reference to the beginning of the war he recalls, "They'd heard about it at the Polomyna postoffice, but in Temgenyovd-the village he lived in-no one had a radio before the war. " (Solzhenitsyn 44). Without any knowledge of the war it's unconceivable that Ivan Denisovich had any affiliation with the Germans. However, under Stalin's regime, the very reason that Ivan was imprisoned was because of supposed communications with the Germans: "In his record it said Shukov was in for treason… But just what he was supposed to do for the Germans neither Shukov nor the interrogator could say.
" (Solzhenitsyn 76) Ivan Denisovich was above suspicion, imprisoned as a result of the politics around him. Solzhenitsyn criticizes Stalin's tyranny through his protagonist. Both characters are employed to make pointed social criticisms about the effect that political instability has on the people under its authority. These effects include changes in thought processes, and therefore personality as Garcia Marquez and Solzhenitsyn also demonstrate through their characters. Circumstances are definitive of what a person thinks, feels and believes.
Involvement in a politically unstable situation doesn't allow for the possibility of retaining an unchanged character. While certain aspects of character are maintained, such as how Ivan Denisovich retains a great deal of dignity while in the labour camp, other aspects of personality are altered. In One Hundred Years of Solitude the alterations to Colonel Aureliano Buendia's personality caused by participation in a politically rooted war are evident. For example, one of his colleagues, General Moncada, said to the Colonel, "'What worries me… is that out of so much hatred for the military… you've ended up as bad as they are.
'" (174). The General noticed changes in Colonel Aureliano Buendia's behaviour. This being the reaction of a colleague; his mother's reaction to her transformed son is an even better indication of the extent to which he's changed: "Ursula had the gloomy feeling that her son was an intruder. '" (174). Neither change connotated by Garcia Marquez is constructive: a developing harshness and unfamiliarity as well as a loss of good nature are implied. In One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich a degradation of Ivan Denisovich's character is used to illustrate the effects of forcible placement in a labour camp.
Solzhenitsyn uses loss of hope, an essential aspect of life, to critique the effects on Ivan of extended exposure to a politically inflicted situation. Ivan's inner discourse reveals the fact that he, a previously self sufficient, small town carpenter, no longer has hopes or aspirations. He feels that, "Writing home now is like throwing rocks into a bottomless pit. " (Solzhenitsyn 44). Ivan becomes so subjected that he begins to accept that, "The fellows at the top thought about everything for him, and it was kind of easier like that. " (Solzhenitsyn 47).
Solzhenitsyn provides sufficient information about Ivan's past to illuminate these personality changes. Time in labour camps may not have changed Ivan's work ethic or determination, as he still works diligently and perseveres, but it's altered his personality in that he has experienced a loss of hope and he now allows someone else to think for him. Although the character changes shown aren't identical in the two novels, the motives of Garcia Marquez and Solzhenitsyn are-to illustrate the negative alterations to personality invoked by political instability. As well, they both criticize the irreversibility of these effects.
Existence in a Siberian labour camp under a Stalinist Regime and leading a Liberal revolution in early Latin America exhibit yet another similarity; they both inflict lifetime repercussions. Solzhenitsyn and Garcia Marquez show that the unstable politics of each respective region have prolonged effects on their characters. In One Hundred Years of Solitude after Colonel Aureliano Buendia's role as a revolutionary leader dissipated he resigned himself from contact with society and, "Enclosed in his workshop, his only relationship with the rest of the world was in his business of little gold fishes.
" (Garcia Marquez 215). His resignation was further shown when a collection of lawyers appeared in his workshop when a jubilee was held in his honour: "He ordered them to leave him in peace, insisting that he was not a hero of the nation as they said but an artisan without memories whose only dream was to die of fatigue in the oblivion and misery of his little gold fishes. " (Garcia Marquez 231) Garcia Marquez uses this seclusion to critique political involvement, showing that it's strenuous and as in the case of Colonel Aureliano Buendia it can alter a character entirely.
As Colonel Aureliano Buendia says, illustrating a definitive change, "'… don't call me Aurelito anymore. Now I'm Colonel Aureliano Buendia. '" (Garcia Marquez 111). Solzhenitsyn also makes a commentary on the repercussions that a politically unstable society has on its people. Ivan Denisovich's imprisonment eliminated any chance he had of eventually resuming his old life. Solzhenitsyn explains this part of Soviet law: "… if you'd been convicted with loss of civil rights, you couldn't get work anywhere and you weren't allowed back home.
" (48) Though Ivan's sentence will end and he will no longer be directly affected by Stalin through his imprisonment, his time there will continue to ruin his quality of life through preventing him from working or returning to his family. Solzhenitsyn's criticism shows contempt for the effects that Stalin's political reign had on Soviet lives. Both authors illustrate that the respective situations of their characters affect not only present life, but that of the future as well.
This is the final element of the criticism on the adverse effects of political instability as demonstrated through Ivan Denisovich and Colonel Aureliano Buendia. In both One Hundred Years of Solitude and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich pointed social criticisms illustrate how politics cause harm to an individual. Garcia Marquez and Solzhenitsyn develop their characters Colonel Aureliano Buendia and Ivan Denisovich according to this purpose. Both characters exist in turbulent political situations and become involved in them through circumstance.
Colonel Aureliano Buendia becomes harsh and detached as a result while Ivan Denisovich loses personal hope. Both authors construct their respective characters according to a motive of demonstrating the alterations to personality invoked by political involvement. They also show that political instability affects a character's future as well as their present existence. By subjecting each character to a period of political turmoil Garcia Marquez and Solzhenitsyn are able to criticize the effect of this political instability on the characters, exposing the effects as evils of society.